Monday, January 19, 2009

Recycling Shredded Paper

This is one way to use shredded paper. I love the texture of the paper in the bag and always wonder what to do with it. It looks like hair or straw.......some kind of filler that should be useful
stuff to do something else with ...but what???

After reading about Papercrete as an alternative building material for solid structures...yes.some people are working on recycling paper into bricks to be used for housing.....I decided to try it on a smaller scale.
I used a large plastic salad bowl from a luncheon at work that was headed for the garbage can and cast a mixture of shredded paper and quikcrete on the inside. It's hard to describe the right mix of paper ,water and quikcrete.
I fill a 5 gallon sheet rock compound bucket with paper and wet it down and let the paper soak for a while to break it up a little. Then I strain off most of the water ( I can always add more water when I add in the Quikcrete.) The paper is wet and clumpy and I add between 5 and 6 tin cans of quikcrete ( I always save tin cans to use for this so that's recycling too.) Then I mix the wet paper and the quikcrete (wearing gloves on my hands ..which is what I end up using even if I start out with a stirring stick and trying to stay out of just can't be done...have to get hands in and really mix the mix together.) After trial and error I've discovered that the mix needs to be a little moist but not sopping wet.

Then with my gloved hands I pat it into the inside of the plastic bowl. I add a little bit extra around the top edge of the bowl to help reinforce it when it's finally out of the mold. It can take quite a while to dry especially in the cold damp days of winter. Some patience is required and I try to put it in a warm room ( I usually cast in the basement where I can be as messy as it needs to be but it's cold and takes a long time if I just leave it down there.)

Sometimes best to just forget about it and leave it alone ...hard to do. I always want to unmold it and have had some bowls fall apart out of the mold because they were still too wet. For this one I just left it in its natural greyish state but I am going to cast some and then add paint and pattern for another look.

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